Friday, February 3, 2023

COLUMN: An alternative goodbye from a cynical senior

December 15, 2022
<p>Headshot photo of Noah Edgar.  </p>

Headshot photo of Noah Edgar.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

I must open with an unsurprising confession: the modal of my lifestyle comes from a place of privilege.

Throughout my life, and particularly within these last four years, I’ve had the privilege to be curious. I’ve transferred schools, changed majors and yet the all encompassing “what if” question still rings through my head, even in this final week.

What if I had gone to a different school? Would things be different? What if I had gone into business? Would I still be moving back home with my parents? What if I had decided to write earlier? Would I have more confidence? What if I had a concrete plan: law school, grad school, a job? Would my mind feel at ease? What if, what if, what if.

There’s a plus side too, though. My experiences living in Ireland, my time in the military – these are experiences that have shaped me.

And though this is, at times, a frightening position, it is a position I intend to be unwavering in. 

With that being said, proceed with caution. I do not intend to infringe my lifestyle upon anyone, as many of you probably don’t care how I choose to live my life, nor do you want to be bothered with any advice I have to offer, if any at all. 

What this is then can’t be a formal lifestyle column filled with the do’s and don'ts of college, nor a method of clearing my conscience as I approach my final days here at MSU. Rather, a self-indulgent attempt to prove to myself that I can still write; a public meditation that I will receive a small payment for. 

Enough of the formalities. The truth is, I need a break from writing my final papers for classes. I’ve already spoken about graduation on a podcast with Griffin Wiles, so what’s the point of this? To this question I can provide only an arbitrary answer.  What I can say is that I believe there is something more intentional and intimate about words written and read, as opposed to words spoken and heard. 

Here we go. For no reason at all, I will carve open my brain and spill whatever’s inside all over my keyboard. A series of random thoughts from a cynical senior.

When people ask me if I’m excited to graduate I tend to hesitate. What am I supposed to say? What do you want me to say? Of course I’m excited to leave the world I’ve known for the last 18 years and embark on a journey into the abysmal unknown. Of course I’m excited to face the reality of my uncertainties. How exciting! No really, how exciting, and how horribly, horribly frightening. 

It’s like releasing a domesticated animal into the wild, or taking an addict away from its source. Yes, an addict. In my final semester, I have been a feign for campus life, taking long drags of whatever is left for me to inhale, because life doesn’t always feel real here. I feel like I’m in a bubble surrounded by people who are thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things. A special world – safety net? – that is ours. 

The hard truth is that I am in the middle of a crisis. The shadowy dementor of cynicism is eating away at my soul. 

Cynicism is born from a fear of rejection. Instead of trying to get that job at a big five publishing company or talk to that girl glowing under the bar light, you create a philosophy around why you won’t. What a cop out. Turn your back on the world before the world turns its back on you, I guess. 

We’re faced then with the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Always wanting more or always knowing you could have more. 

But that is so unfair! Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why, when I sit in classrooms surrounded by future lawyers, politicians and educators, do I feel like I’m the dumbest person in the room? 

It’s so isolating, as if we’re not all in this together. We are never alone in this collective consciousness. 

Most importantly, we are so young. 

We are too young to put this much pressure on ourselves. To get a job at this place after I graduate, to save the world. And after I save the world I’m going to fall in love and get married and, wait — do I even want to get married? 

I don’t know if I'm ready to say goodbye. I don’t know if I’m ready to not live in a dirty old house with mold on the kitchen floors and a leak in the ceiling that sits below the shower – and be perfectly okay with it because I’m on the same block as my friends. 

I don’t know if I’m ready to not be surrounded by people who speak on freedom, as if we have any idea what that word means.

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What I do know is that this is not the end. And though these last four years have given me myself, a feeling of fullness and comfort, there is still a better future waiting for me. I will tell myself this until I believe it.

So, to the nights I don’t remember and the nights I’ll never forget; to the friends I’ll never see again and the friends that’ll last forever: thank you.

Maybe one day we can all regroup in a suburban neighborhood similar to the one I grew up in and wave to each other as we drop our kids off at the bus stop. 

Or maybe we won’t. And that’s okay.

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